FabCity is a self-sufficient micro-society emerging April through June 2016 to explore current solutions to tomorrow’s biggest urban challenges – like plastic waste. CITIES brings a not-to-be-missed 4-part inside look into plastic’s many possibilities.


Date begun
April 2016

Initiated by

Supported by
Gemeente Amsterdam Oost, Europe by People
A small island just off Amsterdam’s mainland is being transformed into a self-sufficient micro-city exploring the future of everyday living. It’s called FabCity – the cornerstone of the Europe by People official cultural program during the Netherlands’ EU presidency.

Emerging for 10 weeks, it will be packed with innovative pavilions, installations and prototypes. Welcoming thousands of visitors, hundreds of students, professionals, researchers, artists and creative will come together to live, work, create, test and present solutions to urban issues such as energy, transportation, water, food and waste. Less about devising new ideas, FabCity is about sharing, and hopefully adopting, what is already available at our fingertips.

In line with our WASTED project, CITIES is organizing the Plastic Era Pavilion to reveal the hidden world of plastic recycling and its many possibilities.


You’re probably in contact with plastic right now. Our society has a bit of an addiction to the material. We need it. And plastic is a remarkable material. It’s easy to use and relatively cheap. As a result, it’s everywhere. Even where we don’t want it to be.

Despite its challenges, plastic presents innumerable possibilities. At FabCity, we show you how we can turn our plastic addiction into something positive. Visitors can discover what’s already happening, exposing a detailed glimpse of the unknown world of (local) plastic waste recycling.

The Plastic Era Pavilion will bring together four elements, focusing on collection, separation, re-processing and potential. These areas define the central pillars of plastic’s life cycle. By adjusting the ways in which we connect the links in this chain, we can transform plastic into the valuable, future-serving raw material it is.


Four elements bring the Plastic Era Pavilion together. Off-site, we engage local communities in a plastic collection race to reach 100% recycling in their neighborhood, and track the progress on the side of the Pavilion. Visitors are welcomed to bring their own bags of plastic waste to support the racers efforts. On-site, we showcase a local plastic separation machine; local small-scale re-processing; and display plastic’s potential through an informative expo showcasing recycled plastic products made in Holland. Below, we offer a more detailed breakdown of what’s what at the Plastic Era Pavilion:

Collection. Neighboring Java and KNSM islands compete in a 10-week WASTED Plastic Race
Separation. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences’ neighborhood scale plastic waste separation installation
Reprocessing. Overtreders W design studio and Bureau SLA architecture studio turn plastic waste into design tiles
Potential. The Plastic Expo investigates plastic as a material and showcases recycled plastic products from Holland


The future of the Plastic Era is shaped by the amount of plastic that is reprocessed into new material resources. But before reprocessing, plastic needs to be collected. As it turns out, households are the primary source of plastic consumption. This means that by collecting plastic in our everyday lives, we are driving a transition toward renewed plastic futures, where collective change happen as we adapt our individual behavior. With supported from Stasdeel Oost, the citizens of two adjacent island communities, Java and KNSM, are collaborating with FabCity’s micro-city to see how much plastic they can collect. For 10 weeks, each island will recycle as much plastic as possible in their neighborhoods. FabCity visitors can track their progress at the Plastic Era Pavilion, with weekly race results visually updated on the Pavilion’s outer wall. If you’re in the area, get involved by bringing your own plastic waste.


Ideally, future cities will not produce plastic waste, but rather recycle it as a resource and enable consumers to also be producers. In order to achieve this, we need to overcome one major technological challenge: separating and sorting the collected plastic. This is important because each type of plastic has its own set of properties, which makes it ideal for creating varied products. On display in this part of the Pavilion is a local plastic separation installation developed by the Amsterdam University of Applied Science’s (HvA) Urban Technology department to advance Circular Design and Smart Production.


Overtreders W and Bureau SLA co-developed a small-scale plastic reprocessing factory. They give shampoo bottles, yogurt containers, bottle caps, discarded garden chairs and leftovers from an injection-molding machine a second, more beautiful life. So far, the tiles have become walls of startup units for student companies at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. During FabCity, you can explore their recycling factory first-hand.


Curious about the possible creations made from locally collected plastic? Visit the Plastic Expo to see the diversity of products innovative technologies have created using different types of plastic. The Plastic Expo puts these products – ranging from everyday objects to design innovations – on display in a two-part exhibition. One part exhibits recycled plastic products, each with an informational label listing, for instance, the type(s) of plastic it’s made out of. The other part shows you the different types of plastic recyclate used as raw material to create new products (provided by our friendly partners at NRK Recycling and the Dutch Recycling Industry). With these two parts, the process comes full-circle as you identify the raw materials used to create exhibited products.

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